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Recollections from the Ladies of the Class of 1961

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 1961: What you are about to read are responses to a pursuit in the making over the past few years. Aided by several of our ‘mates and Ladies, we now begin to read “Recollections of Life with a Graduate of the Class of 1961.” You’ll read stories, maybe with a special twist and some personal viewpoints as authored by Ladies of 1961. Earlier in June 2021, Lucy Paone working with Ed Brown invited the Golden Girls [widows of our deceased ‘mates] to submit their own Recollections: humorous, insightful, sad, uplifting, challenging, exciting and the list could go on...

We guys have been doing this sort of writing routinely for over sixty years: That is telling our own stories. As your Scribe, I believe, the Ladies’ Recollections will become a window that opens up onto our Class history which in turn becomes part of West Point’s recorded history via the AOG. Perhaps as well, the Ladies are passing along and reminding us of lessons about the Army’s culture that we all experienced over these many years.

An FYI: Following distribution of Lucy's invitation there has been added interest as well among the Ladies of surviving Classmates.

Mary Frances Kenny
10/28/2021

A wife of We Were Soldiers

In 2003 Hank and I went to see Mel Gibson’s new movie We Were Soldiers. When scenes appeared of taxi cabs delivering death notices to families at Ft. Benning, I shuddered. The scenes took me back to an identical experience at our home on Carrollburg Drive just outside Ft. Bragg. Along with other wives whose husbands who had deployed to Vietnam, I lived under constant fear of news reports of heavy fighting and increasing casualties.

One early fall afternoon I returned home from shopping for a few things for our two little children. I drove up the driveway, unloaded the car, and walked to the front door. I was now ready to thank and pay the young girl from next door for baby-sitting. I turned the key. Opening the door, I saw my baby-sitter crying. Tears swarmed down her face. “My dad, my dad! My dad was killed,” she finally said. I tried to console the girl, and shared her grief with tears of my own. She told me a taxi had arrived at our house with a telegram for my mother. The driver had asked her, “is this the house of Sergeant ___ (her father)?” She told him no, that his home was next door. The driver then delivered the telegram to her mother next door, who in turn had told her the sad news. I walked the girl home, shaken by the closeness of death to her and all the young families in the Ft. Bragg area. It was 1966. TV film and news reports were highlighting intense battles and more casualties.

Leaving the movie theater, I was thankful that Hank and I were alive and well, and prayerful for those less fortunate in that long and difficult war.

Life in Tokyo

We were living in Tokyo, where Hank was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Mike Mansfield. A lot of people would come to the Embassy to consult with Mansfield. One of them was Henry Kissinger, who was enroute to China to help normalize relations with that country. Before going to China, however, he needed an injection of gamma globulin. At the time I was serving as the Embassy nurse, so guess who gave dear old Henry a shot in the "you know what"? Afterward, people asked me the color and type of his underwear. Top secret!

On another occasion I had the opportunity to meet then Vice President George H.W. Bush. Although a Republican, he wanted to consult with the former Democratic leader, and in the process took time to meet with some Embassy staff at Ambassador Mansfield’s residence. He was very cordial, and when he learned that Hank and I had lived at West Point and that Hank was a graduate, he appeared enthusiastic, and recalled his visit and address there while he was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. I later learned that one of the purposes of his visit was to decide whether to recommend that Mansfield stay on as Ambassador in Tokyo during the Reagan Administration. He did.

Finally, there was the time when our son John got lost. He had just started first grade when he hopped a subway hoping to arrive at a station near our home. Instead, he transferred to the wrong train and wound up in Shinjuku, a city a dozen miles from downtown Tokyo where we lived. Fortunately, he knew how to use public phones, and so when he called, I told him to go to the nearest Koban (police station), and ask for directions to Roppongi station near us. The police heard the word Roppongi right, and less than an hour later he showed up at our door. He never got lost again.

Judi Butterworth:
10/15/2021

Rcollections of the Humorous Side of Life as The Lady of the Class of 1961

I was an Iowa farm girl with little knowledge of West Point at the time Larry and I met. I recall telling my Mom that Larry and I were talking about marriage (after only 3 dates). She didn’t seem too thrilled or impressed with him being a West Pointer but she made it clear to me that I should probably seal the deal since he was a “Virginian”.

We were married in northwest Iowa during a blizzard which dropped over 6 feet of snow. For some reason, Larry had to drive alone in the blizzard to a church he had never seen. The service had to be held up a bit but he made it. Larry has always claimed that the 5 parachute jumps at Airborne School were a piece of cake compared to this 6th jump into marriage. Of course, it didn’t end there as we had to spend the first 3 days of our honeymoon in my parents’ attic while my Dad helped dig us out so we could make our way to California to Larry’s first assignment.

When we arrived at Fort MacArthur, CA, we were told we could stay in the BOQ until we found housing. We were also told that the BOQ would be empty except for us – WRONG!!! Larry reported for duty early the next morning and left me to sleep in. When I went down the hall to take a shower in my flimsies, I heard voices from the shower. I ran as hard as I could back to our room and I think I made it just as 3 guys came out into the hall from the shower – WELCOME TO THE ARMY!!!

Our first born, Kimberley, arrived in San Pedro, CA on Christmas Day, 1962. The night before her birth, Larry and my Dad had more than a few drinks after I went to bed. As Larry came to bed, I informed him that I thought I was about to give birth. He tried his best to talk me out of it saying he was in no condition to deal with this. I finally prevailed and we were off to the hospital. About a block from our apartment, Larry announces that he left his eyeglasses behind and cannot see well. His drunken state plus being half blind made for an interesting trip to the hospital. He literally used the curb as a guide, in and out around parked cars. When I arrived in the delivery room, Larry announced to the medical staff that he had a severe case of hemorrhoids and suggested that he might just require more attention than his wife. Larry made me a promise after this that he would arrange in the future to be absent during any of my future deliveries. He kept this promise.

Life in the Army world continued to be exciting and unpredictable but for me Larry’s first job after retirement (Saudi Arabia) probably topped all of our previous experiences. Larry worked for Vinnell Corporation, which was charged with training the Saudi National Guard. I was given some good advice by a fellow Army wife before going to Saudi Arabia. She told me the only way for a woman to survive there was to ignore the Saudi police (Mutawas) and just walk a straight line as if they didn’t exist. I never had a real problem shopping except when Larry accompanied me. He was responsible for keeping me in line (no blonde hair showing and no part of bare legs showing) and the Mutawas would give him “hell” for not keeping me under control.

Larry was fortunate to be able to command both a battalion and brigade and these opportunities allowed me to work closely with and assist the young wives of officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers. This was my biggest thrill as an Army wife.

Coralinn Tuttle Maus:
10/15/2021

Young Brides of USMA Class of 1961

So, can I contribute to this discussion? You Bet! First, I am steeped in West Point. My dad graduated in 1939. From Ft. Sam Houston, TX, he was moved to England to help plan for the Normandy Invasion. Mom was pregnant when he left, so one of the stories in our home was that when he returned (I was 4) and Mom told me he was my daddy, I said “no, my daddy was a picture of him on the mantel”! We lived at West Point for 2 tours. The last one was when dad was the first department head of the new Military Psychology & Leadership Department, the class of 1961 was the first to attend those classes.

During that tour, in January of 1961, while I was a senior at Highland Falls high school, I had a blind date with Mick Maus. I must have made a really good impression as he traveled back that summer during graduation leave for a week before going to Airborne School. He spent the time while I worked at the Thayer Hotel, working out in the gym getting ready for Airborne. I am still surprised that Mom & Dad let me travel to Ft. Benning during Airborne to visit him, staying with Bob & Sally Potts. Bob was Mick’s room mate for a couple of years. Mick went into Ranger School then and I started college at Rider College, now Rider University. Not missing a chance, he did visit again after Ranger and at Christmas and again before taking the USS United States to Europe.

Most will remember that the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 and Mick went to Germany in 1962. Fortuitously for us, my father was transferred to Germany in 1963 to head up the US Army Schools in Europe in Oberammergau. Because of nepotism, I needed to find a job out of southern Germany and worked then for the Air Force at Rhein Main AFB as a legal secretary. Mick was in Gelnhausen with a self-propelled 155 artillery unit and would pick me up on Friday evenings, rescuing me from the Air Force Zoomies at work. We made such dear friends with the young officers and their wives there. We still visit with them. We were married then in April of 1964 in Oberammergau (known as the abduction of the child bride). We say that Jesus and his apostles attended the wedding and can show the pictures from the reception as proof. Oberammergau is the scene of the Passion Play every 10 years and the actors stay in “the look” that goes with their part in the play.

When Mick elected to resign from the Army I was upset. It was the only life I had really known. All has worked out wonderfully, however. We have stayed closely associated with West Point. Our son, Michael, graduated in 1987 along with Mick’s brother’s son. Mick’s sister’s son graduated in 1991. A grandson, Caleb Kilpatrick, graduated in 2019 and a grandniece, Nicole Maus in 2020.

Civilian life has been an adventure. As Mick progressed thru the ranks, we moved often and enjoyed most environs. We are now in the 9th home we have built and I won’t mention apartments, flats and duplexes. Family, church, golf & travel have filled any vacant times. With classmates, we have made the Danube Cruise, the Russian River Cruise, the Elbe River Cruise, the China cruise/trip, the New Zealand-Australia trip/cruise and the photographic safari to South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana. We are looking forward to the Mississippi River Cruise and the Mediterranean cruise.

Rita Hale:
8/5/2021

“Recollections” of Mike’s First Parachute Jump

It was the day of Mike’s first parachute jump at Ft. Benning in October 1961. Mike was especially “Out of Sorts” that day, what I thought was just nerves over jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. So, I made him a big breakfast: eggs, bacon, grits, toast and jelly. He didn’t eat a bite. Having been in the Army only three months, I figured this was just the first of many strange experiences that I was to encounter in the years ahead.

Our Camellia Apartment car pool arrived shortly and Mike got into the car still looking a little bit queasy. As Mike then tells the story, he arrived at the hanger, put on his parachute and sat for the usual hour waiting to load the plane - all the time tightening his straps and thinking this was just nerves. Eventually, he loaded the plane, took off and made the jump. By this time, I had arrived at the drop zone to welcome him on the ground, along with other ’61 wives.

Of course, we couldn’t recognize our husbands falling through the sky, but I was able to see that Mike was not leaving the drop zone with the other jumpers. FIRST ALERT! As it turned out, Mike was still feeling very sick when he hit the ground. A sergeant then ran up to him to check him out. And, of course, they then loaded him into a jeep and off they went to some unknown location. My reaction: “Hello, what about me? I am his wife. Where is he going?”

When Mike’s carpool arrived back at Camellia Apartments one of the guys said, “They had taken him to the hospital.” Naturally, I hopped into our car and went to Martin Army Hospital. I was totally freaked out, wandering the halls of the hospital, trying to find my husband. Finally, this nice man came up to me and offered to help. I later learned he was the hospital commander. I finally found Mike and learned he was having an emergency appendectomy and was scheduled for surgery in a few hours.

The surgery was successful but so much for that jump class. Mike was then assigned to the training battalion for a two- month profile, waiting to enter the next class to complete his jumps. Colonel Joseph was the training battalion commander. For the next two months Mike and I made Christmas decorations for the Battalion headquarters. We met with the Colonel and his wife for drinks every afternoon at his quarters, cutting out and painting plywood Christmas elves to place in front of the headquarters.

This turned out to be a fun time and a learning experience. I had come to appreciate the prerogative of informality that we had graciously been given by the Joseph’s and also recognized there were times, when formality dictated, I remain quiet. (very difficult for my talkative nature).

Pat Shroyer:
8/5/2021

“Recollections” of Their Early Encounters [Bruce: 8 February 1939 - 18 April 2019]

I met Bruce Shroyer '61 H-2 in a rather unique set of circumstances. I was modeling for Mademoiselle Magazine, College Edition ,in the fall of 1958. Bruce saw my picture and wrote to me at my College. I am sure Mademoiselle was not on his Yearling year required reading list along with Paul Frey's Chemistry Treatise . None the less, after checking him out I did write back.

As a counterpoint to this story following on the modeling theme, Bruce had his own encounter with the NYC magazine world. On July 4th 1961, having just returned from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, Bruce and I were strolling along the boardwalk at Jones Beach on Long Island.

We were stopped by a gentleman who handed Bruce his business card and asked if he ever considered modeling ? “Wasn't that what West Point prepared you all for, any contingency?” At first we thought it was a joke but soon realized he was serious. Bruce spent the next 3 1/2 weeks of his summer leave going from one studio to another, ultimately appearing in several magazine ads and a clothing catalog. Bruce finished the last" shoot" with just enough time to get a hair cut (the photographer had wanted his hair long for the shots) and to drive with me to Fort Benning to begin Airborne School. His pay for this short lived career surpassed his 2nd Lieutenant 's salary.

Bruce and I began our courtship and marriage with one or the other of us modeling in magazines. “Ironic”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last update:
11/02/2021